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Schooled By an Industrialist?
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Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Schooled By an Industrialist? on 01/31/2006 08:52:11 MST Print View

Matt Colon's review of the key note speaker lead me to believe that I missed a great speech...and Matt missed the point! The review reeked of an ever-so-slight...backhanded compliment based on the fact that the individual delivering the speech dressed a certain way and wasn't prone to pandering to the emotional/spiritual side of the "business" that everyone in the room was there to perpetuate.

The simple fact that this rather powerful man made the connection that it was great business to do the right thing for the environment, without sentimentality for "aesthetics" is a more powerful role model for his counterparts in other industries than trying to persuade everyone on the planet that wild places matter. No matter how true and pure outdoor experiences are to me and you...everyone on the planet is not going to care to be outdoors. It is simply not enjoyable to them. In order to persuade these kind of folks, you need a common ground. Good business practices crosses all language and cultural barriers...as does wearing a coat and tie when you want to show respect to someone.

I understand the fear of being "stuck in a time warp" with the whole suit and tie thing...but I would not judge somone because they wore one. In many circles, the tie remains an international way to show respect, and chances are this guy does not even think about how he is dressing in the morning. Chances are he has been putting on a tie longer than Matt Colon has been alive. I would just advocate that as outdoor enthusiasts who care about the environment, that we do not fall into the cliche of judging people because they do not wear something bright and stretchy to prove they have a wild hair...and speak ad-nauseum of the last time they base jumped into a 1000 foot crevasse!

Matt Colon
(mattcolon) - F
Schooled By An Industrialist on 02/02/2006 11:37:25 MST Print View

Scott,

You did miss a great speech. Ray Anderson's efforts strike me as a spectacular example of how potent a commitment to values can be. Seems to me it's one thing to radically change your thinking, quite another to have the courage to change your behavior (particularly in such a broad and consequential manner).

My description of the way Mr. Anderson was dressed was not actually intended as a critique. Rather, it was intended to highlight the fact that he spoke to us from outside the "outdoor industry." (Odd as it might seem, among the thousands of people doing business at the Outdoor Retailer, you really do have to work pretty hard to find anyone wearing the conventional business uniform).

The point of making this distinction was to suggest that in an industry that sustains itself through a connection to wild places and a clean environment, you might expect to find more examples like Ray Anderson among the ranks. I don't fault Mr. Anderson for wearing a tie during his OIA keynote, on the contrary, I find his example all the more inspiring because he has made the commitment to sustainability simply on the grounds that not to do so would be "manifestly wrong" (his words).

For all I know, Ray Anderson spends 90 days a year in the backcountry. But if he does, he didn't mention it. And if he doesn't, then his example is even more compelling. Those of us who love being outside and find spiritual/aesthetic sustenance from wild places would seem to have more at stake than people who don't. Not only am I impressed by what Ray Anderson has done, I'm grateful for the example he has created as well.

Edited by mattcolon on 02/02/2006 16:23:58 MST.

Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Schooled By An Industrialist on 02/02/2006 12:43:31 MST Print View

I think I missed the fact that you were impressed and grateful in your editorial, but I agree whole heartedly with your reply. It was early in the morning, so forgive me if I mistook what you described as a collectively uncomfortable audience as anything but uncomfortable with the fact that an industrialist may be more focused on "green fundamentals" and a more evolved example of what a good manufacturer should be. I have to admit, when I start researching light gear...I too sometimes forget to care where and how it is made!